The US auto dealer industry recently saw a huge shakeup when Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway investment company bought Van Tuyl Group, the country's largest privately owned network of showrooms, for an undisclosed sum. Assuming the deal's regulatory success, it immediately made Buffet one of the nation's largest car retailers. But could the acquisition have come as part of a larger plan to launch a Chinese automaker in the US?

According to Ward's Auto, Berkshire Hathaway could be opening the way to sell vehicles from Chinese automaker BYD in the US, which the investor already owns a stake in. Such an arrangement might conceivably give BYD a leg up in the market because it would have a ready made dealer network to use. Although, according to Ward's Auto, such an arrangement could violate state franchise laws. However, Tesla is showing that they might not be the biggest obstacles if there's a will to fight in court.

This is hardly the first rumor of a Chinese automaker possibly coming to the US. Despite the steady drip of speculation about Geely or Great Wall launching here, so far, none of them are making it happen. BYD might be different, though. In addition to Berkshire Hathaway's backing, it's rumored to want to break into the American passenger car business, possibly in 2015. The automaker already operates a factory building electric buses in California, which gives it a small toehold in the market.

Van Tuyl is already ranked as the fifth largest dealer network in the country, according to Berkshire Hathaway, and Buffet is fairly clear that its 78 stores in 10 states is likely just the beginning of his expansion into the car selling business. It might be a good platform to get BYD onto the US market.

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